Holiday Gift Guide Life + Arts

Rock that Christmas tree: Throwing the perfect holiday party

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Major retailers are a great source of party supplies for low-budget college students.  |  Jenae Sitzes/The Cougar

It’s hard to believe, but the holidays are once again upon us. As the days grow chillier and the semester draws to a close, people often find themselves wanting to wrap up the year with their closest friends and family. Holiday parties are a fun and festive way of bringing your loved ones together, and they’re a great way for college students to celebrate the start of a month-long break.

As students, we’re usually limited with money and space, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have fun. Here are a few things to keep in mind when planning your evening of festivities:

Assemble a guest list

The most important thing to consider when deciding how many people should receive that special invite is how much space you’re working with. It’s tempting to invite everyone you’ve met since freshman year, but if you live in a small apartment, people will be tripping over each other and spilling their drinks. Limit your guest list to a reasonable number of close friends.

Plan a shopping trip

Make a list of everything you need before you hit the store. Categorize the list into food, decorations, tableware and entertainment and think about where you need to go to buy these things.

Most major retailers have a great selection of holiday decorations and party supplies for the low-budget college student.

Organize a menu      

christmas tree - jenae

Nothing brightens up a room like a Christmas tree. Set it up in a spot where it’s the first thing your guests will see when they walk in. Or, make it a fun way to begin the party and have everyone help decorate it. | Jenae Sitzes/The Cougar

Unless you’re a Hilton student who loves organizing large meals and thrives when event-planning, try to plan your party after dinnertime. That way, you only need to provide snacks and/or dessert. Pinterest is a fun source for festive food ideas, like Reindeer Cookies and Christmas Tree Cupcakes.

If you don’t have time to bust out your baking skills, House of Pies has ready-made cakes, pies and cookies that can be picked up at either of its two locations. When it comes to drinks, ask people to bring their favorite wine or have everyone pitch in for a bottle of champagne.

Create a festive space

Setting the mood with lights and decorations is key to getting your guests into the holiday spirit.  Ask your parents or family friends if they have any decorations they wouldn’t mind lending you for the occasion.

Small- to medium-sized Christmas trees are not very expensive (make sure the tree comes with lights attached), and neither are ornaments if you go to the right places. In the end how much you want to dress up your space is up to you — but try not to decorate to the point where it’s distracting.

Lights around the ceiling, red bows on the doors and a Christmas tree in the corner are cost-effective and simple ways to give your apartment or house a festive flair. Small figurines of snowmen or Santa Claus are also cute to have sitting around.

Think of entertainment

When it comes to activities, be sure to consider the group you’re inviting and what is most likely to be a hit. This could mean giving the party a theme, such as ugly Christmas sweaters or Secret Santa gifts, or making it a casual get-together to chill and watch holiday classics like “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “Gremlins.” Decide how formal or casual you want your party to be, and think about what activities will best fit the atmosphere.

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